Practices of Hope and Tales of Disenchantment
In place of the disenchantment fostered by much contemporary criticism, the introduction offers hope as an alternative critical disposition. Hope, the introduction argues, is a disposition toward the imaginative value of dissatisfaction and the social value of imagination: illusion, whimsy, vision, reverie, daydreams, all sources of world making trivialized within disciplinary regimes of the “real.” Hope is the articulation of the origins of critique in imaginative idealism, self-consciously unachievable standards for living, tested and refined in the context of an as-yet-unreal world, against which real conditions inevitably come up short. The book’s introduction introduces a range of critics who, although they wrote during the disenchanted years of the Cold War, developed and refined critical practices of hope. Whether through the democratic deliberations occasioned by myth or the sexual sociality fostered by symbolism or the renovated collectivities organized by nationalism, those critics took terms we currently dismiss and made them hopeful occasions for critical wonder.
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